Menu | Rating System | Guest Book | Archived Reviews:
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

  Dagger Paths  
  Forest Swords  

Olde English Spelling Bee

Release Date:


Reviewed by:

Forest Swords is the moniker of Matthew Barnes, a UK producer who makes electronic music that sounds anything but electronic. But abandon thoughts of disco, or trance, or even IDM when you consider Dagger paths -- this music is built out of loops of guitar and bass and drums. It is post-punk dub more than anything else. In fact, reading about this release online, i am kind of surprised to find this artist lumped in with the electronic musicians from the UK. This music does not really sound loop based. I wonder, did Barnes play the guitar himself, or is it sampled from somewhere?

Dagger paths goes through six songs in barely over half an hour. Let's examine them.

Miarches sets the tone for the record. There is a simple guitar line, clear and trebly, like from a Shipping News or (early) Wire song, a deep bass riff , and some strange echoed sounds including a voice that wails out occasionally. The voice in the song sounds like it comes from a Burial tune, that sort of darkly echoed, female, soul singer voice. I listen to this and i think, "Holy blap soulful, post-punk, math rock dub, where you have you been all my life?"

Hoylake Mist continues the same general them The drumming here is an intense deep sound like from an early Dead Can Dance tune, the guitar chugging away like old post-punk (think, Gang of Four or Magazine), and echoed voice deep in the background. It is eerie and gothy.

Visits uses the same general template but evokes a third comparison from me. The drumming is scattered and it combines with the trebly guitar in a way that reminds me of early Dead Kennedys (specifically, the noisier moments of Holiday In Cambodia). This is less of a goth or a math rock tune, and instead is mournful early punk.

The guitar riff that drives Glory Gongs is very "western sounding". This is a desert tune, with deep rumbling bass and echoed hazy distorted vocals in the distance, back over that ridge -- hiding behind the cactus. It is a song from a Clint Eastwood movie... I especially like the last third, where the bass takes center stage, just riffing away like crazy, and everything else is so echoed that it reverbs around the bass line. Really nice.

On If Your Girl Barnes changes tack slightly by bringing the vocals almost into focus -- almost, but not entirely. I can tell that a male voice is singing lyrics, instead of moaning along to the music, but the echo threatens to overwhelm the comprehensibility of those lyrics at any point in time. It almost makes the song stranger, and does remind me of a lot of the psychedelic stoner metal that is coming out these days.

Finally Dagger paths ends with The Light a brief coda of sorts that sounds vaguely similar to Miarches. It seems to make the record go full circle with the trebly guitar and echo thing, which actually is pretty appropriate.

Now, i have to admit that there really isn't a lot of diversity of sound here. Each song pretty much consists of a trebly echoed guitar, some bass riffing, and various echoed loops in the background. It is, really, a simple formula. I enjoy the heck out of this stuff, and find this a fascinating release. I can barely stop listening to it since it got it. Your mileage may vary, of course, and i can easily see how this might get old and/or irritating halfway through.

Still, if the thought of post-punk, vaguely gothy, vaguely mathy dub excites you, then you have got to check out this record.

Related Links:



Return to the top of this page. | Return to the Album Review menu.